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Monday, 18 December 2017

The Year After (1/4): Dinner For Three




Koku swaggered into Linda’s apartment like he was the landlord. He was excited, not only about seeing his girlfriend but also about the fact that Manchester United lost in the Manchester Derby to their city rivals. Although his team Liverpool did not win their match against Everton either, the Against Supporters Union (ASU) would rather troll the team that lost (Manchester United) than the team that drew (Liverpool).

This was the happiest Koku had been in the past seven days. Ghana’s social media marked a one year anniversary since the National Democratic Congress lost in the 2016 elections and the mockery was no joke. He remembered the events of the post-election days like it was a fight in which was pitilessly crushed. His body jarred with each post he was reminded to have made and the confidence with which he made those posts. His friends and the self-acclaimed social media troll masters and meme kings put a lot into ensuring that sympathizers of the now opposition party would not have a pleasant week.

Pain seared through his skin, especially when he remembered how much his future hinged on the victory of his political party. He thought of himself as the biggest loser in the elections. He had dedicated five years of his life to the National Democratic Congress and there was nothing to show for it.

The past week also reminded him of his severed relationship with Edem and Naa.  Naa took seed in January and gave birth to a girl in September but Koku had not visited his brother and his sister-in-law yet. The guilt of his indiscretion last year sat deeply on his chest.

On a brighter side, the events of last year’s election brought Linda into his life – the best thing to have happened to him in the past year. And there was Kenny!

Koku grew attached to the baby boy after a vigilante group of the New Patriotic Party crossed him shortly after the elections and seized the campaign van he was driving. Linda was kind to let him use Kenny as much as he wanted. There was only one condition according to Linda.

“Make sure he is always clean and when he develops any faults, that’s your problem not mine”.

“Those are two conditions, you know?” Koku replied, readying his mouth for a banter. But Linda gave him the do-you-want-to-use-the-car-or-argue-with-me look and that was enough to stop Koku from saying another word.

Koku turned the door knob and made his way into the living room. The rich aroma of the what he suspected to be Jollof rice wafted down from the kitchen and beckoned him. He could not resist the delightful sensations that whipped up inside his memory at the mere thought of delving his teeth deep and fast into the soft grains. His mouth watered as he relished how cloves of pressed garlic, chillies, tomato paste, beef or chicken would feel on his tongue.

“Koku!” Linda shouted from the kitchen. “Did you remember to buy the sanitary pads for me?”

Silence.

“From your silence, I know you forgot it. Please, go back for it now”.

Pause.

“Otherwise, your nose will smell Canaan but your tongue won’t taste it”.

There was no word from Koku this time too but Linda heard the trapdoor squeal. “Good boy”, she thought, wearing a satisfying smile.

Her eyes wandered around the kitchen. Tea stained counters, dirty tea towel, tea stained mugs, chipped mugs, cracked mugs, odd assortment of cups, crumpled tea towel, dirty enamel mug, slimy draining board and unrinsed dishes. She cringed. The place did not speak well of her at all. A lady like her. She paused her thoughts but the noisy of hum of the refrigerator did not give her the peace of mind she thought she would get.

“Koku must help me clean this place tonight”, she said to herself and walked into the dining room.

The dining room was elegant in a minimalist sort of way, yet still echoed the natural world outside. The table dominated the space. It was an elongated ellipse of oak with the raw bark at the edges. Linda smiled anytime she sat at the table to eat. The importer told an interesting story about the dining set. The tree had been a victim of a violent storm a few years back, upended root ball and all. The two chairs on both ends came from the same tree, each one beautiful in its simplicity, all clean straight lines and high backs.

A navy-blue fabric laid on the table. On top of the fabric and right in the middle of the table was a bouquet of fresh flowers in water. The polished silver cutlery shone brightly in the dimly lit room. At both sides stood a tall empty wine glass and there were beautifully folded napkins to match the colour of the fabric laid on the table. All that was missing was the food and the people to eat it.

“Today is the day”, Linda said to herself. She could not wait to break the news to Koku. The romantic dinner and sending her boyfriend back to the shop were all leading to the big announcement planned for after dessert.

She knew he would be excited to hear it but she was still anxious to see his reaction. This would change everything for two of them. The excitement made her breathing rapid and shallow. She could feel her pulse pounding in her temples.

It was a relief to hear a knock on the door.

“Speak of the devil”, that was indistinct. Then on top of her voice, “Silly you! When did you start knocking before entering this house?”.

It was obvious it was not Koku at the door. Or, he was playing his usual pranks on her.

“Young man, if you think I’m coming to the door to meet you, forgerrit!”

Still, there was no movement into the room. Linda gave up and walked to the entrance.

She lost her balance when she saw who was at the door. She leaned on the mull post to prevent her from falling. Her mouth shivered. She wanted to say something but…

“You look like I just pulled a rhinoceros from my pocket”, the elderly man at the door made light of the situation and let himself in. Linda followed him silently. She was still in shock.

“This place smells good”. He continued, casting his eyes across the room. “Is that Jollof I smell?” He walked towards the dining room. “Oh, nice. Looks like you were expecting me”, he turned to look at Linda who had still not recovered from the surprise.

Seeing that she could not respond, the man went on. “Oh, I am sure it is not for me. It’s for your boyfriend. Dinner for two, huh?” Pause. Sigh. “Can we make that three?”

To be continued…